Are You Ready for the Rapture?
INTRODUCTION: Would you turn with me in your Bible to the Gospel of John, chapter 14, verses 1-3 and follow me as I read our Lord's words to his disciples on the eve of His crucifixion:
"Let not your hearts be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I WILL COME AGAIN, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also."
We believe the Bible speaks very clearly of the bodily, intimate, personal, visible return of the Lord Jesus. At which time the saints will be raised from the grave and the living believers will be "caught up together to be with the Lord." We call this the RAPTURE. This sign-less, unannounced event "The blessed Hope of the Church," will be our ULTIMATE TRIP. The hymn writer wrote,
Marvelous message we bring, glorious carol we sing.
Wonderful words of the king, Jesus is coming again.
Coming again, Coming again.
Maybe MORNING, maybe NOON,
maybe EVENING, and maybe SOON!
O wonderful Day it will be, Jesus is Coming Again.
Jesus is coming again. That ought to STIMULATE our hearts, EXCITE our minds, and MOTIVATE our lives. Amen!
We should be excited by the CERTAINTY of His coming.
His first trip to earth is a fact of history.
His first trip was a fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies which lay out details of HOW, WHEN and WHERE He would come.
And He came exactly HOW, WHEN and WHERE the prophecies predicted.
In similar fashion, while here on His first trip, He said He would be coming a second time – "I will come again."
We should be excited about the UNCERTAINTY of His coming. In Matthew 22:44 we read, "Therefore be ye also ready, for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh." The time is fixed, but we don't have a clue as to when it is. But what about all those signs? Listen, don't look for signs; look for the Saviour and listen for the shout! You need to understand that almost all the signs in relation to the Second Coming are not about the RAPTURE but about the REVELATION at the end of the tribulation. Jesus is coming at any moment – signs or no signs.
"It may be at morn, when the day is awaking,
It may be at midday, it may be at twilight.
It may be perchance, that the blackness of midnight
Will burst into light in the blaze of His Glory,
When Jesus receives "His own."
It could be at any time. It could be any day. It could be today.
We should be excited by the CONVICTION that we are to be busy for Him. Jesus said to the disciples in Luke 19:13, "Occupy until I come." This means we should live for Jesus and serve Jesus all the time. The Christian life is not a Sunday experience, every day is to be filled with the excitement of His coming.
We sing, "What a day that will be, when my Jesus I shall see, and I look upon His face, the one who saved me by His grace."
We must understand there are two phases foretold about the Second Coming.
Number 1 Jesus will come FOR US in what we call the RAPTURE of the CHURCH. Here He will descend from Heaven and we will meet Him in the Air, to take us up to heaven.
Number 2 Jesus will later return WITH US to this earth to set up His throne at Jerusalem. This is called the REVELATION of JESUS CHRIST.
Every moment of every day Jesus coming again ought to STIMULATE our hearts, EXCITE our minds, and MOTIVATE our lives. Amen!
With that in mind, please turn with me to one of the most comforting passages for the believer on the return of Christ, and follow me as I read for you these arresting, challenging and comforting words found in I Thessalonians 4:13-18,
First: in verse 13 Paul dispels the believer’s IGNORANCE. “But I would not have you to be ignorant…”
Second: in verse 13 Paul mentions those who are DEAD. “…brethren, concerning them which are asleep (dead)…,”
Third: In verses 13b-15 Paul defends the believer’s HOPE: “… that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. (14) For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. (15) For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.”
Fourth: In verse 16 there will be a RETURN. “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God…”
Fifth: In verse 16 there will be a RESURRECTION. “… and the dead in Christ shall rise first:”
Sixth: In verse 17 there will be a RAPTURE. “Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up…”
Seventh: In verse 17 there will be a REUNION. “…together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”
Eighth: In verse 18 there will be a REASSURANCE. “Wherefore comfort one another with these words.”
Even though this passage speaks of the RAPTURE, interestingly you will not find the word RAPTURE in this passage; it comes from the Latin word “RAPERE.”. However in verse 17 notice the words "CAUGHT UP." The Greek word used for "caught-up" is "HARPAZO" meaning,
To carry off by force or to snatch out and away from the danger of destruction.
The "HARPAZO" will occur suddenly! Believers will be snatched away by force rescuing us from danger of the coming great tribulation period, a great holocaust that will last for 7 years as we will see in Revelation 6-19.
When we speak of the second coming of Christ, we need to understand that the personal, visible, physical return of Jesus Christ is in TWO STAGES:
The FIRST STAGE will be our Lord’s return in the AIR as he comes FOR His SAINTS, before the GREAT TRIBULATION begins. This stage is called the RAPTURE of the church.
At an unknown time, Jesus is going to appear in the sky and all Christians, from this church age of grace, both living and dead, will be transported in a blink of an eye to meet Him in the sky. We will vanish without a trace.
The SECOND STAGE will be our Lord’s return to the EARTH as He comes WITH His SAINTS, at the conclusion of the 7 years of GREAT TRIBULATION during the Battle of Armageddon. This stage is called the REVELATION of Jesus Christ.
Now, since the second coming of Christ is of such certainty, it is going to happen, then how should a believer live in light of this? In this message let me give you SIX truths from the book of I Thessalonians where we discover that each of the five chapters ends with the mention of the return of the Lord Jesus.
1. The Second coming of Christ should cause us to live by Faith in the midst of a wicked society. In I Thessalonians 1:9-10 we read,
“For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; (10) And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.”
To illustrate this, would you hold your place here and turn with me to the 5th chapter of Genesis which has been properly called the "EPITAPH" or graveyard chapter of the Bible. At the end of every name you read the phrase "and he died."
That is the history of all humanity, "for it is appointed unto man once to die…" However, when you come to Enoch in verse 24 you have the exception to the rule, “And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.” Enoch didn't die, he was raptured!
Just to take what was stated here at face value is a challenge in itself. I believe Enoch enjoyed fellowship with God in a way unlike anyone else since God walked with Adam in the garden. This speaks to me of a walk of fellowship.
“Here was a man who became an exception to a universal rule, that it's appointed unto man once to die.”
We do not need to speculate nor wonder just how Enoch walked with God, for the Bible says in Hebrews 11:5 "… for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God."
Every child of God should aspire to please God in a walk of Faith. We are reminded that we should "walk by faith and not by sight." Faith ought to be the first recourse of God's people, not the last.
According to Jude verses 14-15 not only was Enoch's life a walk of faith, but it was a walk of faith in the midst of a very wicked society.
Listen, Jesus is not very popular today. Jesus is not liked today. Jesus is cursed today, and when you walk a life of faith with Jesus in this world you will be cursed, too.
You mention His name and see the eyebrows raise.
You sing of Him in public and hear the snickers.
You pass out a tract and feel the coldness come your way.
You pray in a restaurant and see the stares you receive.
Though Jesus is hated today, one day He will be honored. Though today He is cursed, one day every eye shall see Him, and every knee shall bow before Him, and every tongue shall confess the name of Jesus.
2. The Second coming of Christ should give us an incentive to win souls to Christ. In I Thessalonians 2:19-20, we read,
“For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? (20) For ye are our glory and joy.”
Our "crown of rejoicing" refers to the souls we have won to Jesus. Jesus left this earth giving us the great commission from Mark 16:15 to "…go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." The only thing we can send from this world to the next are precious souls we have been able to bring to Jesus.
Since He may come at any time, this ought to be a challenge to be busy telling others, about the Saviour. This is not a time to continually sit and just praise God for our blessed assurances, it's a time to get busy in the greatest of all activities of the believer – that of soul winning.
You know someone who needs to be saved, who needs Jesus today. Since Jesus said, "I will come again" that ought to be an incentive to win them to Jesus.
3. The Second coming of Christ should cause us to better serve the Lord. In II Thessalonians 3:12-13 we read,
“And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you: (13) To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.”
Jesus did not save us just to rock our way into Heaven. He did not intend for us to be IDLE, and APATHETIC. Rather, He sent us to be
"ZEALOUS, FERVENT, busily engaged in the work of the Lord, WITNESSING, SERVING, DOING WHATEVER WE CAN FOR THE CAUSE OF CHRIST AND THE SOULS OF MAN."
In I Corinthians 15:58, we read "… be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord." In view of His imminent return,
We are to be STEADFAST, stay with it, DON'T QUIT.
We are to be UNMOVABLE, on the foundation of the Word of God.
We are to be ALWAYS ABOUNDING, always busy in the things of Christ.
There is much to be done, and little time left to do it. Be ye steadfast. Yet we have a time when religiously the climate has been one of constant transition. Many are just quitting the work of the Lord.
Wherever you go, there is a tremendous dropout rate in Sunday school, and Sunday night attendance.
Preachers and Christian workers are either changing churches or being driven out by unspiritual Boards on the average of every 2-3 years. How tragic this is.
People are changing churches just as fast. God's people, at the slightest whim or fancy, decide to move their membership, and it doesn't even prick their conscience.
I find it hard to believe the Spirit of God has anything to do with moving from one church to another just because someone, _________. You fill in the blank. I hear all too often,
"I used to be a deacon,"
"I once was a Sunday School teacher,"
"I used to do this in the Church,"
"At one time I was active for the Lord."
In God's dear name why not change that from “used to be” to “now I am.” BE UNMOVABLE! You are still alive, the Rapture hasn't happened yet. The Bible encourages "Always abounding in the work of the Lord." There is a shout coming, this is not the time to relax, we have a world going to Hell that needs the Saviour.
4. The Second coming of Christ should bring comfort to the believer. In I Thessalonians 4:18 we read, “Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” Who will be raptured?
In verse 13 of our text, Paul says "brethren."
In verse 14 of our text, he says "believers"
In verse 14 Paul also says those "in Jesus."
In verse 16 he tells us "those in Christ."
Very simply the Bible says that SAVED PEOPLE will be caught up in a moment, in a twinkling of an eye! EVERY BORN-AGAIN person will be raptured.
If we believe that Jesus died and rose again, then by faith we can know that our believing loved ones who have passed on from this life are also alive with Him in heaven, and when the Lord returns for us who are alive, He will bring them with Him.
Notice in verse 14 we are told that Christ would bring them "WITH HIM." In verse 16 he said, "and the dead in Christ shall rise first."
When a saved person dies, their soul and spirit goes to heaven, but their body is buried in a grave. They shall rise first and we who are alive at His coming will be "caught up" to meet the lord with them in the air. What a comfort to know that day of reunion; to know that one day
That dear mother or dad who is in heaven will meet you in the air.
That sister or brother who has since died will together with you be caught up in the rapture.
That little baby that you had to lay to rest will rise to meet you and together you will meet the Lord coming for you.
"Wherefore, comfort one another with these words."
5. The Second coming of Christ should cause us to keep our lives in order. In I Thessalonians 5:22-23 we read,
“Abstain from all appearance of evil. (23) And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
We believe in the imminent return of the Lord Jesus Christ.
He may come even before this service is over.
He may come before Christmas arrives.
Jesus said I will come again. This should cause us to keep our lives in order, our homes in order, and our church in order.
It is interesting that whenever the coming of Christ is mentioned in the New Testament it is always followed by a challenge to live godly and holy before the Lord. The second coming of Jesus Christ should cause us to set our priorities and standards for godliness.
Let me ask you a sobering question. Suppose Jesus had come yesterday, how would He have found you living? Oh, listen when we focus our eyes upon the heavens and realize at any moment the SHOUT, the TRUMPET of GOD, the VOICE OF THE ARCHANGEL could break the heavens, and Jesus could return at any moment IT WOULD CHANGE OUR LIVES!
Many years ago, a traveler came upon a Swiss Villa. There, the gardener was an elderly man.
"How long have you been here?" asked the traveler. “I have been here 24 years.”
"And how often has your master been here." The answer, “Only 4 times.”
"When was the last time?" “Twelve years,” was the response.
"Does he write often?" “Never once.”
"Well, who does come here?” “I am always alone, it's very, very seldom that even a stranger comes.”
"Yet you have kept everything in order, as if you were expecting your master was coming tomorrow!" “OH, NO! AS IF HE WERE COMING TODAY, SIR, AS IF IT WERE TODAY!"
Are you prepared for Christ to return, as if it were today? Let me hasten on to the last point.
The Second Coming of Christ should cause us to live by Faith in the midst of a wicked society while we wait for His return.
The Second Coming of Christ should give us an incentive to win souls to Christ.
The Second Coming of Christ should cause us to better serve the Lord.
The Second Coming of Christ should bring comfort to the believer.
The Second Coming of Christ should cause us to keep our lives in order.
When we focus our eyes upon the heavens and realize that in any moment the SHOUT, the TRUMPET of GOD, the VOICE OF THE ARCHANGEL could break the heavens, and Jesus could return at any moment IT WOULD CHANGE OUR LIVES!
We ought to be prepared as if Jesus’ second coming was TODAY!
6. The Second coming of Christ will cause a Grievous Separation. Please notice again I Thessalonians 4:13-14,
“But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. (14) For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.”
Remember the Apostle Paul is addressing saved people in this passage. If your loved one is born again, don't grieve as the unsaved when they lose someone they love. We have hope; they have no hope.
I sincerely believe that the most tragic event on earth is the funeral of a lost man or woman. The hearts of those families are scarred for all eternity because they have no hope, no assurance of ever being reunited again.
In verse 14 we have the Gospel message – the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. If we believe the gospel message, there is hope! Because our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ has risen from the grave and ever lives and cares for us today.
We have rejoiced in the hope of seeing our loved once again when Jesus comes. But now, honesty, I must say that the coming of Christ will also mean a grievous separation.
Some husbands and wives will be separated forever.
Some parents will be separated forever from their children.
Some brothers and sisters will be separated forever.
Some neighbors and co-workers will be separated forever.
Dear friends, a grievous separation is coming. The saved will be separated from the unsaved. If you are not saved, I warn you, one day you will find that Christian mother, wife, brother, sister, friend, suddenly, in the twinkling of an eye, will be caught up to meet Christ in the air and you will be left behind!
Dear lost sinner, in Christ's name, repent and be ready to go when Jesus comes. Thank God, He has delayed His coming as we read in II Peter 3:9,
"The Lord…is long-suffering to usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance."
Christians friends, are your loved ones saved? How can you rest when your family may be divided forever today, or tomorrow, or at any moment? How can you be unconcerned when you have loved ones unsaved who are certain to be left behind when Jesus comes?
The 2nd coming of Christ should cause you to live by Faith in the midst of a wicked society while you wait for His return.
The 2nd coming of Christ should give you an incentive to win souls.
The 2nd coming of Christ should cause you to better serve the Lord.
The 2nd coming of Christ should bring comfort to you, the believer.
The 2nd coming of Christ should cause you to keep your life in order.
The 2nd coming of Christ will cause a Grievous Separation.
Jesus may come again at any moment. "Should Jesus return, and the RAPTURE takes place now, are you ready?"
As all eyes are focused upon the Middle East, especially upon Israel, think of all the possibilities and the eventualities that lay before us.
In these last few moments of this service, why not take time to do a little evaluation of your life?
Are you saved, Born Again by Faith in Jesus Christ?
Are you living and serving, "For the Glory of God?"
Are there some who you need to reach with the Gospel, and bring them to Jesus?
Are there some changes you need to make in your life to keep it in a godly order?
Are there some you need to reach, by giving comfort, showing them compassion, love, care and concern?
H.G. Spafford upon hearing the news of the tragic loss of his four daughters at sea, and upon arriving at the very spot where the ship went down, he sat down and wrote what to me is one of the greatest hymns of the faith. The fourth stanza reads:
And, Lord, haste the day when thy faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll.
The trump shall re-sound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so – it is will with my soul.
Today, is it will with your soul?
If God has spoken to your heart after reading the sermon "Are You Ready For The Rapture?" right now talk to God about what He has spoken to you.
Do you have the assurance that one day you will go to heaven? If you have no assurance that you know Jesus Christ, then I trust you will decide to accept Him as your personal Savior. The Bible tells us in
Acts 16:31, “…Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved…”
Romans 10:13, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
This prayer is here for those who need to ask Jesus to be their personal Savior: “I do want to go to Heaven. I know I am a sinner, and I do believe Jesus Christ died for me. I realize I cannot buy this great salvation, nor can I earn it. Knowing Jesus died on the cross and arose from the grave to pay my sin debt and to purchase my salvation, I do now trust Him as my Savior, and from this moment on I am completely depending on Him for my salvation.”
If you made the decision to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, please let me know. Please send an e-mail to email@example.com and I will send you some literature that will help you in your Christian life.
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